Performance linked pay for the Partners

As a kid , most of us would have received incentive from our elders for doing good job. If you will finish your homework, you will get a candy or you will be allowed to play with your friends. I used to recall it as bribe until we introduced performance linked pay in the organization for Partners.

Does performance pay really work? Who is the beneficiary, it is organization or its partners? If we again go through above example it was win-win situation for both the participants.

We faced the issue with one of our application development project which was based on innovative idea imbibing latest technology and management was planning to resell it in the market. For successful execution we tied up with well-known partner. We entered into service level agreement which was quite precise. With six month development timelines, project started very well , however since we were not expert in that latest technology we were dependent our partner for execution. We encountered certain issues which could have been addressed in a better way and average quality really affected our business plan, what if we would have offered some additional incentive which we could have been covered from this new business idea? The project quality and turnaround time would have been better? Intellectual intervention from partner’s end would have helped making the premium application?

So this incident made us realize that periodic evaluation of partners and measuring their performance is quite crucial particularly when they form the part of direct cost. Efficient evaluation leads to ensuring that right partners are appointed and contributing to the organization performance, but it was challenging to enhance or maintain the efficiency level. We thought of introducing incentive and penalty mechanism, but we were not clear how to implement this as this should not backfire to the bottom line of the organization, so we had to be realistic. On debating internally we arrived at few points which helped in deriving the framework

Why one should pay a bonus for services which partners anyways need to deliver as per service level agreement. So incentive can be annexed to the above average standards of services only?

We realized that strict standards of service will only work if they are crucial and achievable else partners may refuse to sign the agreement. So we needed to be fair while adding the incentive or penalty terms to the agreement. The terms needed to be clear, specific, measurable and well documented not leaving any room for negotiation. Incentive calculation had to be clear and partner needed to understand and accept it with great zeal as he/she was going to be compensated for the extra efforts and above standard services.

Further, acknowledgement and evaluation of incentive also we realized needed to be paid in a short span say a month after success was reported, this ensured that objective of the performance linked pay does not get lost in the process.

Keeping above pros and cons in mind, we started the initiative ‘Growing Together’ with our partner and introduced incentive mechanism in the system and performance linked pay has really worked well for us.

Driving Digital Within Your Company in 2019 – Part II

Top 10 Things You Can Do

Taking off from what I shared in the part one, now let us address each show-stopper to become the digital marketing maverick that you are waiting to be.

#1 Invest in digital talent. Hire an experienced and qualified digital marketing native, someone who has been an integral part of the digital business eco-system, Ecommerce or Online Publishers, or has worked with industries that have been early adopters of digital such as the Travel, BFSI segment.

#2 Start sharing business briefs with your digital agency and ask for their strategic recommendations on digital marketing to meet your business objectives, as opposed to asking for a Search, or Social media or a Website pitch.

#3 Have common de-briefing meets with your mainline and digital agency to discuss large briefs, challenges etc. Have common brainstorming planning sessions. Ask both agencies to come back with their recommendations for the larger piece. We’ve been through many of these sessions where we are invited, and more often than not, score higher in the response on ideas and recommendations made in these sessions, and yet, the mainline agency is then briefed to come back with the big strategy recommendation.

#4 Invest in digital technology training. We ourselves do Digital-Next sessions with key clients which have really helped our clients open up to technology-led ideas they would have otherwise never considered. For instance, the chatbot done for Bajaj Nomarks. Bajaj has been an early mover in investing in this space that only a rare fast-moving-consumer-good brand would consider.

#5 Invest in digital marketing seminars where top-brass in your company are invited as speakers or panelists, or are part of a round-table etc. Or, organize a round-table within your company inviting teams from other companies that have done well in leveraging the digital opportunity. Peer to peer sharing can be an eye-opener to higher-ups. Tata Steel has done wonders with its e-commerce start up Aashiyana, and has been invited to and has had their sharing session with Ultratech Cement for instance.

#6. No one likes to be told to do something, the response usually starts with why they should not. So share success stories, quotes and evangelism from unexpected corners. Rajesh Jejurikar, (@rajesh664). President, Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.for instance will tell you just how `smart-phone’ savvy rural India is becoming, if you track him at events or just follow him on social media, and then re-share his stories within your system.

#7. Be transparent with sharing performance and ROI from traditional media with your digital partner. Giving them a benchmark will help to achieve and surpass consistently, enabling digital evangelism within your organization.

#8 Build an appetite for experiment and failing. The rewards of eventual success will make it worth it – enough and more examples around you that stand proof. You cannot do digital marketing if you are risk averse. Because with the rapidly evolving technology piece, plus rapidly proliferating digital media, and increasing count of adopters each day, there is going to be a constant newness in digital media, unlike traditional benchmarks set by TV or Print wherein evolution of any kind dwarfs in comparison.

#9 Integrate digital into your overall media and map your conversion spikes. What do we mean by that? For example, time your experiments with mobile ad push, at exactly the time that your TV ad is showing. Location-targeting, so inside your grocery story, as she does her monthly shopping let the lady of the house get your offer pushed to her. See the immediate ROI with these experiments so the pilots can demonstrate results.

#10 Do before and after of digital SOV tracking. How? Track volume of consumer generated content if you are already using ORM tools, or check impact on volume of organic searches when you do an exclusive digital led campaign. Or run online research or polls, that can help you track or demonstrate cost-efficiencies coupled with key audience targeting that digital offers. Spend as much as you would on traditional media on a digital exclusive campaign – see the impact on sales.

Digital with rapidly evolving terrains, tools, analytics being introduced everyday needs to be imbibed as a culture, and indeed, the volume of things to learn and unlearn may seem formidable to take on. The benefits for business however are as much bigger and is a must to survive in an increasingly digitized economy. Lets get started.

Driving Digital Within Your Company in 2019 – Part I

The Show Stoppers

On the jury of the XIV Digital Marketing Conclave of IAMAI, 2018, it was heartening to get a close-look at the `client’-side of things with a fresh perspective.

Any digital marketer, worth his salt especially one with 2-3 decades in sales or marketing, knows that digital can today totally change the game for his or her business, drive growth, reverse stagnation, input into product development, totally overhaul ROI, etc.  But before we look at  how you can drive digital in your company, let’s look at what are some of the stumbling blocks:

#1 Getting the right `digital’ partner. Digital agencies can execute but can fall short on strategy, or if they are in place, the young-talent there is not `expected’ to really understand the strategy piece, so businesses end-up sharing superficial briefs with their digital partner. As an independent digital agency ourselves, this is a piece we are really working on addressing constantly.

#2 Mature ad network strategize but limit in adopting digital as an integral practice of all they do and continue to treat digital as an add on. Even after acquiring top-rank digital agencies, the story remains the same, an adopted child being patronized or getting a step-motherly treatment, but not its share-of-voice in the big advertising piece internally.

#3 Digital itself is not just about creative communication and media planning and buying, but it has as a backbone an `alien’ territory that the marketer has to deal with, the rapidly-evolving technology piece.

#4 Digital leaderships within companies are not qualified enough. In-house marketing talent, typically brand or sales managers, and in worst-case scenarios – the Media head, is (often suddenly) entrusted with holding the digital mantle either as a new career opportunity / promotion, or simply as an add on to what they were already doing. Which only adds up to the challenges mentioned in the earlier 3 points.

#5 Top management buy-in to investing in digital marketing, moving away from the comfort zone, is a challenge.
Top brass is okay to spend 5 percent, thereabouts, of total budgets on the most familiar digital avenues like Facebook page, getting a website done, and 20-100 words in SEO.

#6 That smartphones are reaching where even TV does not is now being advocated by Bollywood, as they rapidly are adopting digital to market their films. Winning the Digital Celebrity title, cinestar Varun Dhawan, saw that the residents of a village where he shot knew him, thanks to Jio, access to the Internet with their smart phones, and the videos they saw of his on Youtube. This village does not have any television reach. Yet, feeding the Jio phenomenon as a reality to top bosses is mostly a humongous task, (if this applies to you, maybe the celebrity endorsement for digital reach with Dhawan’s video piece may just work). The mobile revolution is only superficially acknowledged.

#7 Digital is perceived to deliver greater ROI and is measurable, so more accountability on small digital spends is expected, which needs to surpass the ROI from traditional media! This despite the fact that TV is where the the brand is spending 500 per cent more than digital. What’s more even if achieved, the proof-of-concept continues to be a small pilot and all the hard work and slogging is just not able to help create an internal shift.

Read Part II of this blog to find out how you can bring the shift.

Part II: Top 10 Things You Can Do To Drive Digital